Publishing Date: May 5, 2015
Publisher: Penguin Canada
Pages: 272 pages
Young Adult Historical Fiction
The Premise: The story takes place in London in 1872 and follows seventeen year old Leonora Somerville. She is incredibly beautiful and about to make her debut to society, but she has one problem that makes everything a little bit more difficult than it should be. She has a speech disorder that causes her to stutter and also curiously, allows her to mimic the voices of others without the stutter. She has been nicknamed 'Mad Miss Mimic' by fellow servants and even her family. During this time, London is dealing with opium fever and there is a mysterious gang called The Black Glove who is setting off explosions around the city. Leonora must come to terms with how her family begins to prepare to set her up with the famous Francis Thornfax during such a time in London. On top of all of this, Leo, also finds herself beginning to care for her brother in law's worker, Tom Rampling. The story essentially follows Leo on her journey to find her voice and her sense of self.
My overall thoughts and review: When I first read the premise for this book I was instantly intrigued. I love books that take place in Victorian London and the idea of Leo with a curious speech disorder, where she can mimic the voices of others perfectly definitely sounded promising. To begin with, Henstra builds a wonderful world. Often some authors focus so heavily on the character that they forget to build the world that the character occupies. I loved how Henstra takes the reader to the Victorian London that most would be familiar with, but also brings the reader to areas that are new and different and within them really demonstrates how a character can flourish. Leo was a wonderful protagonist. She was incredibly self-aware and reading from her perspective was particularly interesting. You got to see Leo, as Leo and from there the many different versions of her depending on her company, and then you got to see Leo with another mask, so to speak, for when she mimicked the voices of others. I loved how the story unfolded and the character of Tom was so incredibly lovable. I loved how his relationship with Leo developed overtime and how things were unraveled to the reader. I guess I kind of called how it was going to unravel from the beginning, but that did not really hinder the reading experience for me. I LOVED how it unfolded and when the book ended, I only wanted more of Leonora's story. If you are a fan of historical fiction and you love Victorian London, this is a great young adult read for you! It definitely reminded me of Sherlock Holmes in a way, and that is definitely a good thing! ;) All in all, an astounding YA read!
My rating of the book: ✮✮✮✮✮ (5/5 stars)
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Disclaimer: I received an Advanced Readers Copy of this book from Penguin Canada. All opinions are my own.